Maritzburg United defender Siyanda Xulu will captain Bafana Bafana for the 2018 Cosafa Cup tournament, which kicked off on Sunday.
The 26-year-old has played a crucial role in helping the Team of Choice secure a club-record fourth-place finish in the Absa Premiership while finishing as runners-up in the Nedbank Cup this season.
Bafana Bafana will begin their exploits of the tournament in the quarter-final stage where they will take on the winner of Group A, which includes Madagascar, Mozambique, Comoros and Mozambique.
Madagascar beat Mozambique 2-1 in the opening match of the competition this past weekend, while Comoros and Seychelles were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane.
The South African national team held their first training session on Sunday after all their players reported for national team duty as they continue their preparation for the upcoming encounter.
Xulu says he was surprised after coach Stuart Baxter handed him the captaincy following his long absence in the national team.
But the Maritzburg defender will be hoping his experience on an international level will help him lead the team to success at the tournament.
‘Personally, it has been a great year, I can actually label this as my best season ever,’ Xulu told Safa.net.
‘When one looks back two seasons ago, things were not looking that great, me coming back and fighting for my position at Maritzburg United, earning a Bafana Bafana call-up and also being named captain of the squad – and I am hoping for a good tournament.
‘I have been here for years now, under different coaches and it was quite a privilege working with them. I think that experience will help me in camp to lead the guys, it is the responsibility I have to take as the captain and I am very honoured.
‘It was a very huge surprise when the coach named me the captain. Coming back here is me saying to myself “let me just learn new things from the other guys, let me reset my international career”. It was me trying to refocus on my game, and the captaincy is not something I really expected,’ he concluded.
Xulu made his debut for the South African national team on 15 June 2012 when he came on to replace Morgan Gould in the 80th minute during their match against Gabon.
Photo: Safa website
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